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Review: A docu-drama on Shimla that’ll revive your childhood memories and that struggle for playground

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short film on Shimla

The government is least concerned about it. Large pieces of land are cleared for construction of shopping complexes and parking lots. However, playground and parks aren’t anywhere in the to-do-list of government.

SHIMLA-The Shimla Ridge is always crowded during day as it represents the very heart of the popular hill station. For those who are born and brought up in Shimla, the Ridge appears like an ant-farm with constant humming noise emanating from the crowd throughout the day. But if you ever get a chance to visit it early morning, then don’t miss it. It’s serene enough to allow sounds of nature take over for a while. For instance, at early morning hours you can hear chirping of birds. You should definitely watch Vivek Mohan’s new docu-drama “SOS: Shivaji park of Shimla” that includes early morning scenes that can justify aforesaid statement.

Vivek Mohan was born and brought up in Shimla and is currently based in Mumbai. His 21 minute docu-drama might not be a masterpiece from artistic and technical perspective as it’s shot only with an iPhone.  The filmmaker didn’t want to destroy realistic behavior of children by intruding with bulky professional camera. So, he just used an iPhone. Rather, the docu-drama is more focused on a critical issue that no political party or organization ever take up – complete lack of playgrounds for children in Shimla town.

Watch Full Docu-Drama

The docu-drama will definitely revive childhood memories of those brought up in Shimla. They’ll agree that children in Shimla spend more time searching for lost balls than playing the game. You’ll understand what we intend to say here if  you are brought up in Shimla. In the middle of a cricket match, it was common to witness extensive search operations in bushes to find lost balls. In Shimla, it’s nothing short of a bliss for children to find even a small space to play.  That’s because the administration has even failed to provide even small parks for kids.

One of the British era water reservoirs, the Shimla Ridge, used to be the only place that children used to treat as their common playground. However, now these children are not allowed to play here because their playing causes inconvenience to people. This justification would have been logical if these children had anything on the name of a playground.

The Ridge is shown in different shades which suggest that the filmmaker had been chasing  gangs of children for months. The early morning scenes, other than children, contains usual activity like a waterman opening water supply while sound of broom is clearly audible in the background. Moreover, the original background sounds don’t miss barking of dogs – a permanent feature of the Shimla Ridge and the Mall. Clearly, even dogs can play on the Ridge while children are restricted. The occasional and the only mechanical intrusion is that of ambulances or police vehicles. 

SOS: Shivaji park of Shimla

sos-shivaji-park-of-shimla

The filmmaker has compared the famous Shivaji park in Mumbai to the Ridge Shimla. Despite being a stadium, Shivaji Park is open for all people and children to play. However, in Shimla, the only open space is prohibited for children to play or to cycle. Children complain that cops threaten to snatch their cycles and chase them away with warnings. 
The police is, no doubt, only following directions here, but still it sounds unfair to chose cops to chase away these children whenever they try to play. Police hardly enjoys any positive image. Children still try to find opportunity to use the Shimla Ridge as their playground. Mostly, early morning when the Ridge is completely deserted, these children try to make full of it. The children are aware that police doesn’t take more than a few minutes to arrive as rotating CCTV cameras always keep vigil on them. Still, they take their chances like rebels do. 

The administration is least concerned about it and always expresses helplessness. Large pieces of lands are being cleared for construction of shopping complexes and parking lots. However, playgrounds or parks aren’t anywhere in the to-do-list of government. Some selected playgrounds either belong to schools or similar institutions. Isn’t it insensitive of us to underestimate the role of a playground in development of children? If you ask a counselor, it’s shear repression of natural instinct of human kind during childhood – playfulness. Children start exploring their world from playground. Sadly, citizens, too,  don’t try to push the administration to think about the issue.

Annadale ground

Photo: Daily Mail

The filmmaker has even created a dedicated Facebook Group “SOS: Shivaji park of Shimla” for this cause that like minded people are joining. Here, you will find suggestions to this issue like letting children to play on Annandale ground and even Jubbar Hatti airport. The airport is hardly in use and Annandale has been turned into a helipad with little air traffic. The world’s highest cricket ground in Chail isn’t under the control of district administration, hence,  not accessible to children. So, children are forced to compromise with quality of their childhood. 

To continue this campaign, the filmmaker has even planned an event in Shimla to highlight the same issue.

Vivek Mohan has started this campaign but he’ll require support of citizens to achieve the intended purpose – playgrounds and parks for children.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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A small initiative by bunch of creative people making a difference

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Healing Himalayas rainshelter art

Shimla: Shimla – a name that leaves many hearts pounding, many wandering souls want to travel to this place, is well on its way of losing its charm. Every hilltop blotted with concrete houses, every slope shrouded under littered waste, every corner of the town chocked to death by oil-guzzling machines – this is the new picture of our town that was once famous for being ‘Queen of the Hill.’

Visual pollution mostly remained unchecked, and the majority of the public properties like rain-shelters have become free advertisement boards. 

To whatever direction you throw an eye, all you see is the tainted landscape. A hazy skyline hidden behind a cloud of dust and pollution ruins the vista. If you ask who is responsible for creating this mess – the only sound that echoes in the mountains is bad governance.

However, holding the governance alone responsible would be wrong. The people of the town are equally responsible for turning our town, which once used to be a beautiful hill station covered in deodar forests, into a wretch place. The landscape turns gloomier when you discover more about how our once-a-beautiful town looks on the inside.

Rain-Shelter at the BCS in Shimla City before Revamping

No matter how gloomy the landscape of our town turns, there are always people with positive spirits who refuse to give up. This group of creative people, under the name of a Non-profit organization Healing Himalayas – in association with some local artists and volunteers, is a good example of how to work in the right direction and set things right.

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Before revamping

They are striving hard to bring back the lost glory of the hill queen by making small efforts like conducting cleaning drives across Shimla and inspiring people to not litter.

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Removing posters/pamphletsa

This doesn’t stop here. They are taking steps to beautify the town by giving bus stops or rains shelters a revamped look. Almost all bus stops are in a really bad state.

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Cleaning the rain shelter

I am not very sure if they serve the purpose of providing shelter to the public on a rainy or sunny day, but they are a free and open playground for advertisers. Every local company, business, institutions especially coaching academies come and use interior as well as exterior walls of rain shelters to advertise their services and offers.

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Painting after cleaning

In an effort to spread awareness on how to use public properties/places, the NGO takes to the streets of BSC, New Shimla on Sunday, May 20, 2018, and started peeling off posters and banners that stained the walls of the shelter beyond repair.

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The team which included about 25 artists and volunteers took over the shelter at around 7:00 am and removed all posters and banners from the wall.

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The poster removal drill that lasted for about four hours was followed by applying multiple quotes of primer and whitewash. That’s not it; to turn the once-an-ugly-looking shelter into a work of art, the enthusiasts covered the walls in beautiful artwork.

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An inspiring initiative by a bunch of creative people turned gloomy walls of the shelter into a life-size canvas where beautiful forms and figures started taking shapes. In the tireless process, the rain shelter was a changed place that looked no less than an art gallery.

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Inspiring art depicting endangered mother earth instils an element of emotion in the concrete walls. Blooming flowers, guitar, beautiful landscapes, and ‘Ardhanarishvara’ with moon arch as his head ornament turn the walls into a multicoloured art.

After cleaning and painting

From blending colours to make a perfect hue to making the right brush strokes took them about 8 hours to complete the paint job. And, the final output, which reflects their (the team) artistic approach towards a mundane life, deserves your attention. See for yourself.
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Healing Himalaya initiative in shimla city 7

By Yash Sharma, Shimla

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Self-taught local artist to exhibit ’17 Paintings’ oil painting works at Gaiety, Shimla

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Shimla: For the art lovers and critics in Himachal Pradesh, a self-taught local artist will showcase his collection of oil paintings titled “17 Paintings” on a two-days exhibition at the historic Gaiety Theater, Shimla on December 9 and 10 from 11.00 AM to 6.00 PM.

Surya Ranjan Shandil (31), who hails from Solan district, works in Bengaluru as a computer programmer in the field of education technology. After his schooling from Shimla, he obtained a B.Tech Degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Himachal's cutlural paintings

Courtesy: Surya Ranjan Shandil

However, he did not ignore his love for the painting and continued it at evenings after college, work, on weekends, and Sundays.

Later, Ranjan realized he has a collection of his own. His first solo exhibition was held in November 2016 at the Gaiety Theater.

The appreciation he received at the first exhibition encouraged him to present his second collection of oil paintings that he painted during 2017.

He received his education upto Class 12 from Shimla’s St. Edwards and Dayanand Public School.

He is best known for his captivating genre paintings.

I started drawing at the age of 3-4 years. At that time, I used to sign the drawings with incorrect spellings of my name,

Ranjan told Himachal Watcher

His father, Dr R G Shandil, who is now retired, was a professor of mathematics at the H.P. University, Shimla. His mother Dr. Sandhya Shandil was a teacher at the St. Edward’s School, Shimla.

After graduating in 2010, I started with oil painting during the evenings and weekends. Gradually I built up a collection and in November 2016, I held my first solo exhibition of 29 oil paintings at gaiety,

he said.

local himachali painting artist

Ranjan’s paintings reflect people. The upcoming exhibition opens with simple themes like the joy of shopping, local festivities, celebration, dance and music. Most works painted on these themes are in the context of Himachal.

Surya Ranjan Shandil

Following these are mellow paintings ‘Seaside Nap’ and ‘Personal Sunrise’ – more subtle takes on human thought. The artist also takes a step towards satire in comically interesting works ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Chimpanzees’.

Slowly moving towards expressionism ‘Kayal’ takes the viewer to the realm of subjectless painting while in ‘Frenzy’ the artist dispenses with form.

Ending on a light hearted note, the paintings ‘Bonfire’ and ‘A Silent Conversation’ recreate the magic of Gabbar Singh and Rajesh Khanna on canvas.

About his love for painting, he said,

I believe art is a journey of constant improvisation.  

It would be his second solo exhibition. Earlier, he has participated and won prizes in several painting competitions throughout his schooling and B.Tech.

 

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Bollywood film-maker Onir conducting auditions in Shimla for his next film

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Teenage Shimla girl actors

Shimla: Shimla-based production house ‘Secret Corridor Pictures’, run by award-winning filmmaker Siddharth Chauhan, is looking for new faces for Onir’s upcoming film “Kuch Bheege Alfaaz”. The film will be shot in Shimla.

Onir is a National award-winning director and producer. He needs a young girl in the age group of 14-18 from Shimla to cast in his film.

Onir has directed films like: My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, Sorry Bhai, I AM, and Shab. His ‘Chauranga’ had won him multiple awards last year.

The Secret Corridor is looking after the casting & production process for this film. The production house is currently scrutinizing applications and organizing auditions.

In the first round of the auditions was conducted online and five finalists were selected out of over 50 applicants. These five candidates were invited for an interview with Onir on October 8, 2017.

The production house is also looking for actors in all age groups for other projects.

Onir’s films are known for the unique content that works as a trailblazer for the Indian film industry.

He is the man behind ‘My Brother Nikhil’ – the first Bollywood film that addressed the sensitive topic of homosexuality and AIDS.

His other film ‘I AM’ had won him the prestigious National Award & many other awards at various international film festivals.

The interested candidates can apply for auditions alongwith their pictures and other details. The candidates can either apply through e-mail at [email protected]” or through Facebook.

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